A Mixue Ice Cream & Tea outlet in Johor Bahru. (Photo: Claudia Liao)

Mixue, ChaGee, Luckin: F&B brands boosting China's soft power in Southeast Asia?

As China tries to sell its soft power, one channel it is tapping into is its food and beverage industry, with brands like Mixue and Luckin Coffee moving into overseas markets. Alongside its tech exports like smartphones, can China convince others of its products and improve its image?
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergei Lavrov pays respects to President Ho Chi Minh at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi on 6 July 2022. (Thông Tấn Xã Việt Nam (TTXVN)/Facebook)

Russia’s memory diplomacy is paying dividends in Southeast Asia

Russia is employing the selective use of history to further its goals in Southeast Asia. But amid the various reminders of Soviet or Russian involvement in Southeast Asia, there is the constant awareness that history can be written in a certain way by certain parties.
Tourists navigate an open air market in Bangkok on 16 October 2023. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP)

Thailand’s exposure to Northeast Asia’s slowdowns

World events have not been kind to Thailand’s economic plans. Besides high oil prices and US interest rates, Thailand faces prolonged slowdowns in its Northeast Asian economic partners. The challenges and opportunities are many, and ultimately hinge on stable democratic leadership.
The Royal Thai Navy holds a press briefing at the force’s headquarters in Bangkok in 2020 to defend the purchase of two more submarines worth 22.5 billion baht from China. (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Thailand’s marooned submarine deal: Some questions need answers

Thailand’s long-drawn saga to acquire Chinese-built submarines is dead in the water. The kingdom’s newly-appointed defence minister Sutin Klungsang should be asking the Royal Thai Navy some serious questions.
Thai police standing in front of some Thai nationals allegedly enslaved by scam gangs based in Cambodia. This picture was taken in Cambodia. (Tan Hui Yee/SPH Media)

[Big read] Are Chinese tourists targeted by scam syndicates in Southeast Asia?

Lianhe Zaobao journalist Daryl Lim steps into the world of scam syndicates and scam hubs in Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, which is one centre of activity. How can the authorities clean up the industry so that tourists — especially from China — will return and boost the recovery of the tourism industry?
This photo taken on 4 July 2023 shows fruit vendors waiting for customers along a street in the Chinatown area of Bangkok. (Sai Aung Main/AFP)

Tackling the illicit use of Thai business nominees by Chinese networks

Illicit nominations of Thais as shareholders in businesses run by Chinese operators are threatening local concerns. This highlights a dense network of transnational criminal activity that the Thai authorities are up against.
A group photo at the 16th World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention (WCEC) in Bangkok, Thailand. (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry)

China's growing influence on overseas Chinese businessmen: Reflections on the 16th WCEC in Bangkok

Lee Huay Leng, editor-in-chief of SPH’s Chinese Media Group, notes that she seems to have witnessed a shift in focus while attending the recent World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention in Bangkok — while earlier editions were targeted at bringing together ethnic Chinese businessmen scattered around the world, a changed world seems to have made the latest edition more China-centric, and it remains to be seen whether this will hold for future editions.
Thai (L) and the Taiwanese (R) version of The Prince Who Turns Into A Frog, a story of a rich young man who falls in love with a young woman after losing his memory. (Internet)

How Thailand is remaking TV dramas, from Taiwan's Meteor Garden to China's Addicted

Over the past decade or so, Thailand has come up with its own remakes of popular shows from overseas, from Chinese and Korean dramas to Taiwanese idol series. Producers have learnt that they need to inject their own uniqueness to the remade dramas to find an audience, including the large Chinese market. In recent years, Thailand’s own brand of “boys’ love” or BL dramas have even found favour with many of the source markets of its remade dramas. Zaobao correspondent Wang Yingmin talks to production companies and viewers to understand the pull of Thai TV series.
Traffic jam at Bangkok's Chinatown, one of the top tourist attraction spots as Thailand is expecting arrivals of Chinese tourists after China reopens its borders amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in Bangkok, Thailand, 6 January 2023. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Chinese tourists return to Thailand on ‘zero-fare tours’, and locals aren’t happy

With China resuming outbound travel, Chinese tourists are on the move again. And with the wave of people, comes the resurgence of “zero-fare” tour groups — particularly in Thailand — that promise low-budget options. However, tourists are only brought to specific spots to spend money, which eventually goes back to Chinese operators without benefiting the local economy.